NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Ed Orgeron says he broke the devastating news to LSU’s offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger that his daughter-in-law, WDSU sport reporter Carley McCord, died in a plane crash Saturday morning while on her way to the watch them face off against Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl.
McCord was one of six people on the plane. The only survivor of the crash is in critical condition.
As family and friends mourn the victims, including a 15-year-old boy, federal investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash.
“There was just like this big wave of fire that just pummeled down the yard. It was horrible,” says one witness.
Witnesses recounted the moments a private, 1980 Piper went down in Lafayette.
“I saw the plane coming in and it was really low to the ground and it was shaking.”
“It was tilted like that and it can and hit that post first then it tipped and hit the suburban and came straight and hit that white jeep.”
“It look like it was coming to land and then it just skated through a parking lot at the post office.”
Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit says the two engine, fixed-wing aircraft went down at around 9:20 a.m. Saturday morning on Verot School Road, less than a mile from the airport.
“The plane was taking off from the airport and crashed in this particular area,” says Benoit.
The plane, which is registered to Cheyenne Partners LLC, is an eight-seater that had at least six-people on board when it took off from Lafayette bound for Dekalb Peachtree Airport, north of Atlanta.
According to Lafayette television station KATC, the crash killed the pilot, 51-year-old Ian Biggs and five passengers, 59-year-old Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 30-year-old Carley Ann McCord, 51-year-old Gretchen Vincent and 15-year-old Michael Walker Vincent.
Another passenger was seriously injured.
Chief Benoit says three people on the ground were also hurt when the plane went down. Someone in a car was taken to a hospital with serious burns and two postal workers suffered smoke inhalation.
“It’s a tragic event. It hurts because you feel for the families and it’s something we’re going to get through. We keep going first.”
McCord’s husband says she was headed to the Peach Bowl with friends to see LSU face off against Oklahoma.
Her father-in-law, Steve Ensminger, is the team’s Offensive Coordinator.
A Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate, McCord was an in-game host for the Saints and the Pelicans and a freelance sports reporter for WDSU.
WDSU’s President and General Manager Joel Vilmenay released a statement about McCord’s passing saying,
“We are devastated by the loss of such an amazing talent and valued member of our WDSU family. Carley’s passion for sports journalism and her deep knowledge of Louisiana sports, from high school to the professional ranks, made her an exceptional journalist. As we reflect on her impressive body of work, we offer our deepest condolences to her family.”
The Saints and Pelicans also released a statement in response to McCord’s death.
In part, the statement reads,
“On behalf od Mrs. Gayle Benson and our entire organization, we are devastated by the sudden death of Carley McCord. Carley was a valued member of both our New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans family as an in-game host and her infectious personality and knowledge of both teams entertained our fans. Not only was Carley an excellent representative of the Saints and Pelicans organizations, she was also a highly-respected member of the media covering sports with utmost professionalism.”
New Orleans Saints Michael Thomas tweeted his condolences after hearing of McCord’s passing.
Former LSU player Marlon Favorite also shared his memories of working with her.
FOX 8′s Meg Gatto shared a photo of McCord and spoke of the the tragedy of another local reporter passing away in a plane crash just four months after the death of FOX 8 reporter Nancy Parker.
Despite LSU going on to win their game against Oklahoma, many LSU say the win was bittersweet and could not shake the sorrow of McCord’s death. And despite the game being a blowout, some fans say they had to stick around simply to support the team and it’s coach during this difficult time.